Arvind Gopu's home on the web!

AG's FAQ: Answers to some commonly asked IU related questions

Most of this is copied and pasted from emails I sent in the past to answer queries from folks coming to the US for graduate studies, especially ones coming from India. In addition to this, I recommend you also check: Yogesh's 'guide' to living in B'town.

  1. Is there a mailing list for Indian graduate students that I can subscribe to?
  2. Any suggestions on places to stay (temporarily) at Bloomington for 2-3 days? Are there hotels close to university?
  3. How hard is it find accomdation in B'town?
  4. I still would like to exploring housing options (before I arrive in Bloomington).. Where do I start? Or will I still be able to find an apartment if I arrive in mid-August?
  5. Will I need to pay an advance if I lease a house from India through the web?
  6. Is it better to stay off-campus?
  7. How much is the normal cost-of-living?
  8. I want to open a bank account, any recommendations on which bank(s) to consider?
  9. How can I travel from Chicago to Bloomington? What are my options?
  10. How can I know the exact fees for MS course in CS? The website
  11. Do vegetarians find it a problem living in apartments? (Yes, someone asked me this, I swear!)
  12. I believe text books are very expensive in the US..keeping that in mind, what books should I bring from India?
  13. Which topics did you particularly find difficult to handle and what basic topics can I come prepared with before I join the program
  14. Could you could share some personal experience about the bioinformatics program and IUB in general (is it worth it)?

  1. Is there a mailing list for Indian graduate students that I can subscribe to?

    Yes, subscribe to yahoogroup named "iubdesis".

  2. Any suggestions on places to stay (temporarily) at Bloomington for 2-3 days? Are there hotels close to university?

    You could try emailing the yahoo group mentioned in above and ask if someone will be able accomodate you at their place.

    Or you could try staying in Eigenmann hall -- I believe they allow incoming students to stay for 2 nights for $25 a night. Business guests, I believe, stay at the IMU.

    The following URL has information on other hotel/motel type places that you could stay.

    PS: If you are an incoming CS/Economics/Chemistry/ Physics student, you may be better off staying with who lives closer to the Lindley Hall area, so that eventually shifting stuff to your apartment would be easier.

  3. How hard is it find accomdation in B'town?

    Finding accomdation is usually no big deal; just come here and you should be able to find an apartment. If you plan to stay off-campus, then try to arrive on a sensible date that's close to when your lease begins (i.e avoid coming 7-14 days in advance unless you have a compelling reason -- I write this because it's happened before).

  4. I still would like to exploring housing options (before I arrive in Bloomington).. Where do I start? Or will I still be able to find an apartment if I arrive in mid-August?

    My guess is, you should be able to find an apartment and sign a lease after you get here. Also, you could be room-mates with someone who's already signed a lease or has decided the place they want to live. Find out if there is a yahoogroup or something for people coming to IUB for the semester you're arriving.

    If you'd still like to get information about apartments in Bloomington, here are a few weblinks you may find useful..

    If you are going to join Computer Science, then you'd want to stay on the south west side of campus-- say within a mile from Lindley Hall - 150 S Woodlawn Avenue; do a mapquest.com check if you like!

    Few more links:

    PS:I wrote this in a note to someone after considerable prodding :-) Just to be more specific, if I were you (and joining CS/Economics/Chemistry/Physics)...I'd live somewhere in the following streets: S.Henderson, S.Dunn, S.Grant, S.Lincoln, S.Fess, S.Woodlawn between 1st street and 7th (or probably 10th street). I may have missed smaller streets in between. Just my personal opinion. All this changes if you decide/plan to buy a car after arriving.

  5. Will I need to pay an advance if I lease a house from India through the web?

    You'll need to ask the particular property management company. Usually, you pay 1/2 or 1 month's rent as advance when you sign a lease.

  6. Is it better to stay off-campus?

    A lot of grad students (esp from India) stay off-campus; there are plenty of apartments surrounding various ends of the IU campus. You can ride buses from certain points to others / ride bikes when it's warm (or rather not too cold). Else walking is the answer. There are a couple of on-campus apts which don't give a bad deal either, but for these you will need to apply real early. I am not the best person to comment on this, since I always lived off-campus as a student.

  7. How much is the normal cost-of-living?

    Monthly expenditure if you live in off-campus apts. -- again, there are a couple of on-campus apts similar in cost, but extremely hard to get into -- will range from $350 to $750 depending on how many people you stay with, how often you do long distance phone calls (this point is almost obsolete since cell phones are fairly cheap), how often you eat out, etc. Rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is usually $500-700 per apt. Phone could be $25 (plus long distance $0-100 if you are reasonably sane, more if you're not!). Groceries could be $100-200 or less. Electricity could be $50 on an average (depending on whether you use the AC a lot in summer and if you have gas or electric heating in winter). Then you have other expenses -- eating out, high speed internet, yada yada..

  8. I want to open a bank a/c, any recommendations on which bank(s) toconsider?

    Most students get a bank account at IUCU; Bank One also offers free checking these days, I think; but I suspect they have more stringent requirements before you open an account, for example social security number.

  9. How can I travel from Chicago to Bloomington? What are my options?

    It's a 4-hr drive if you'd like to rent a car from Chicago (and can legally drive!). Otherwise you can take the silly 1-hr flight into Indy and a shuttle down to Bloomington.


  10. How much tuition can I expect to pay per semester/year (say, for a Masters in CS degree)? When I join the university, do I need to pay a year's tution fee or a semester's tution fee upfront?

    Tuition is on a per-semester basis and depends on the number of credits you take plus some mandatory charges (rather annoying at times) including insurance. I'd suspect you'll take 9 (or 12) credits/semester. Check this link out, you should be able to do the math.

         http://www.indiana.edu/~blbursar/body/rates/rates_and_policies.php

    Immigration has some ridiculous written as well as unwritten rules - you might want to check on that. AFAIK, they expect you to be able to show funds for a year's tuition and living, but that may have changed.

  11. Do vegetarians find it a problem living in apartments? (Yes, someone asked me this, I swear!)

    Vegetarianism is something you need to talk about to whoever you live with (if you live with room mates). You probably won't be staying in those dorms in any case, so don't worry about that.

  12. I believe text books are very expensive in the US..keeping that in mind, what books should I bring from India?

    It all depends on the path you plan to take (if you already have one planned) within your program... what classes you take, what book does a particular professor use, and so forth. The best thing to do is probably check out course webpages from prior semesters and see what text book(s) was used.

    If you are going to join Computer Science, it might be worth-while bringing the standard titles, if not for anything else at least for reference: Silberschatz & Galvin for Operating Systems, Peterson &and Davie for Computer Networks, and so forth. (Don't have a list off the top of my head, will try to add more content whenever...)


Bioinformatics Program related

  1. Which topics did you particularly find difficult to handle and what basic topics can I come prepared with before I join the program (as I have about 4 months left) especially in biology as similar to you I also come from a computer science background in engineering thus lacking advanced biology knowledge.

    Actually there is no single answer to this. In terms of how much you know (or don't) learning basic molecular biology would be very useful -- DNA--->proteins and all the associated good stuff -- metabolism, regulation, etc. I can't list topics off my mind right now, but can try if you want me to. From a computer science point of view, you will be required to do lot of scripting - so unix shell scripting/perl/python scripting experience would help. Other programming lang expr (Java, C, C++, etc) would also be useful. Also if you are interested in more chemistry, then there is lot of modelling work going on; you might wanna learn the basics, but I am not competent to comment on that since I am miles away from such stuff.

  2. Could you could share some personal experience about the bioinformatics program and IUB in general (is it worth it)?

    Well, I was pretty much in computer science for 2 years before I decided to get a bioinformatics major as well. I can tell you Bloomington is a splendid place to go to school. AFA informatics goes, it's a fairly new program and is still in its formative years. So things are not well-settled in terms of curriculum, who teaches what, etc. I suspect, it would be much better as time progresses.